Insurance companies are facing pressure to open access to in vitro fertilization (IVF) for gay couples, specifically in New York. Insurance coverage extends to heterosexual couples and lesbian couples, but it does not support gay cisgender male couples. They are expected to spend over $200,000 to have a child via surrogacy and IVF.
A recent story from The Guardian sparked major discussion on the topic. It features Corey Briskin and Nicholas Maggipinto, husbands of six years who are ready to take the next step and build a family.
Briskin received great health benefits from his employer, but after reviewing the option that mattered most, he was devastated. Their insurance described infertility as “an inability to have a child through heterosexual sex or intrauterine insemination.” Although this applies to their situation, since neither of them are biologically suited to carry the pregnancy, they are excluded. They cannot extend their insurance to a surrogate mother either.
Briskin and Maggipinto found it unacceptable to be excluded from the insurance benefit. In April 2022, the couple filed a class action lawsuit against the city of New York, “suing Briskin’s former employers for unlawful workplace discrimination.” Winning this case would be monumental not only for the couple, but for queer men in homosexual relationships across the country.
“Employers and health insurers across the U.S. will be under pressure to change their policies to give gay men the same access to fertility benefits as anyone else,” The Guardian writes. Now, the couple are on a mission to be loud advocates on this discriminating issue.
History has continuously given couples outside of the heterosexual spectrum the short end of the stick. It has only been seven years since gay marriage was legalized in the United States, yet stigmas and discrimination remain prevalent.
The U.S. Department of Justice reported a total of 1,110 bias incidents against individuals for their sexual orientation in 2020. Society takes a few steps forward and then runs in the opposite direction. The right to have children should not be a question.
All couples should have the opportunity of knowing what it is like to raise a child of their own. The chance to hold kin made from one’s own blood is a dream many wish for. It is easily attainable for couples who can naturally have children without issue, so couples who physically cannot do so should not be disregarded. Life is beautiful and all families of any background deserve the opportunity to experience the feeling of parenthood.
“That’s ridiculous. Insurances should cover IVF for surrogacy [for gay couples]. Why are you going to give one family the opportunity to have a child and the other not?” said Dawn Sy, 21, a biology major with a psychology minor. “If you’re offering insurance to one family over another then you’re basically like ‘Oh they deserve it, but you don’t.’ That’s not okay.”
Aspects of society are shifting and life is nothing like it was in the 20th century. Times are changing and so are identities and dynamics. It is the responsibility of organizations, like insurance companies, to adapt and accommodate everyone.
“It’s about fairness and I think this comes from the stigma that comes with being a gay man in society,” said Sky Tabora, 21, a theater major with a concentration in acting. Tabora identifies as a gay man, so for him this issue is especially pressing. “I feel like society considers many gay men as less than or just dirty people who crave sex.”
Acceptance of communities outside the heteronormative expectations must progress. Nuclear families no longer consist of a mother and father. Parental figures can be of various gender identities or sexual orientations and their background will not impact how they raise their child. Part of the issue with this being unavailable to gay men is due to outdated gender roles, as it suggests that two men are “not capable of raising children because there [is] no female figure in that relationship,” Briskin told The Guardian.
Blatant ignorance will not achieve anything, especially when it becomes targeted.
“I feel like I’m going to be 80 by the time people are okay with gay people just living and existing. I’m hoping that [this lawsuit] will put in motion for things to change, and things to get better,” said Sy.
Couples of all backgrounds deserve the opportunity to live a normal life. Getting married, having children and happily growing old is an innocent dream. It would be unfair to deny someone the lifestyle for identifying beyond heteronormativity.
Photo courtesy of Kellie Parker, Flickr